Fewer families need the service now as they work from home, but child care may not be there when they return to the core post-COVID
As Edmontonians weather a fifth wave of the pandemic, the prolonged closure of many downtown offices has left daycares in the heart of the city struggling to stay open.
"I am concerned that we may have to shut our doors if we don't get help to survive," said Heather Ratsoy, owner of It's All About Kids Daycare. The daycare has been based out of the main floor of the Edmonton Journal building since 2000, when Ratsoy transitioned from manager of the centre to the owner.
At one point, she had 300 families on the waiting list for a spot because it is "right in the middle of the hub of offices."
But as COVID-19 shut down the city, parents opted to enrol their children in daycare centres closer to their new home offices. Now out of 59 available spots at It's All About Kids, only nine children are enrolled.
"Downtown is like a dead zone," Ratsoy said. "But survival is very important, so that when things get better we are there to provide the services that are needed downtown. You can say that about restaurants, about any business. But in order for people to go to work, we have to be there."
Ratsoy isn't the only one concerned — other daycare operators, politicians, and parents are sounding the alarm that a key piece of social infrastructure is at risk of collapsing if more supports aren't provided soon.